Dr. Kelsey Brocker, a pediatric psychologist, considers joining Akron Children’s to be a stroke of good luck. It started with a chance encounter in Georgia.
“I was discussing my professional goals and aspirations with my parents,” she said. “We were at a restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, where I was born and raised. Someone approached our table and introduced himself as a physician at the local hospital. He wanted to start a bariatric treatment team and hoped to hire a psychologist. I was still pursuing my master’s degree in clinical health psychology from Mercer University in Atlanta and had years to go before completing my doctoral studies. Before that conversation, I hadn’t thought about the needs of the overweight and obese population and how a psychologist in the medical field could help them.”
Fast-forward several years and Dr. Brocker lived with her husband in Canfield, Ohio and was completing her post-doctoral residency. When a friend told her that Akron Children’s Healthy Active Living program in Mahoning Valley was hiring a psychologist, she remembered the long-forgotten physician. How ironic that the position working with overweight and obese children and teens opened up just as she was beginning to look for work!
Why did you choose to come to Akron Children’s Hospital?
I strongly value Akron Children’s multi-disciplinary approach. Children’s prioritizes both patient care and employee well-being, focusing on quality over quantity, which can oftentimes get overlooked. Serving the community while representing such a reputable organization is an honor.
Describe your role at Akron Children’s and what you hope to accomplish?
Currently, I see patients in the Healthy Active Living program and eventually will work with the Mahoning Valley’s sleep lab and Pain Center when they open. My goals are to help grow the Mahoning Valley programs and cultivate the psychological services offered on its campus. Previously, there wasn’t a full-time pediatric psychologist at Mahoning Valley, and there is such a need for psychology (everywhere!). I’ll be available to serve the clinical needs of patients and families in the greater Youngstown area.
What is your area of expertise and why did you choose it?
In the Healthy Active Living program, our multi-disciplinary team cares for children and teens diagnosed with childhood obesity and related health issues. The team also includes a pediatrician, dietitian, exercise physiologist and general pediatric surgeon. I provide patients with tools, strategies and behavioral interventions to manage weight. Childhood obesity is on the rise and the COVID-19 pandemic led to mental health declines in kids, sometimes resulting in unhealthy eating patterns and weight gain.
What impression do you hope to leave with your patients each day?
I hope to provide a sense of hope and optimism.
How does your personality fit your role?
I’m bubbly and outgoing and sometimes described as a “child at heart.” It’s humbling and fulfilling to be in healthcare working with children. I find their resiliency and outlook truly remarkable.
What’s the most memorable thing that’s ever happened to you as a provider?
Seeing the relief on a parent’s face or joy in a child when they recognize they’re taking positive steps in the right direction.
What achievements are you most proud of?
Besides completing the lengthy schooling and training requirements for my position, I qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2008 and 2012 during my collegiate career on Auburn University swim team.
Who makes up your family, including pets and their names?
My husband, Brad, and our son, Palmer, and daughter, Adeline, as well as our dogs, Maximus and Hazel.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
I spend time with my family outside playing, watching movies, coloring, etc. My husband and I enjoy relaxing and watching television shows/movies in the evenings once the children are asleep.
What’s your favorite quote?
“The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.”
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient! Everything falls into place. We are in such a hurry to grow up and see what our lives turn into when we are teenagers/early adults. It’s better to just enjoy each phase of life because it goes fast!
What’s the best thing about your family?
My family is extremely supportive. My parents, no matter what we did, always encouraged us to give our best effort and to enjoy ourselves. My husband also encourages me to do whatever it is that makes me happy and does whatever he can to help make that happen. We’re all very close. My sister and brother and I speak most days and I Facetime with my parents on a daily basis.